Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

alexander csd

November 29, 2018 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander csd, news, alexander, schools, education, notify.

alexandercapexbus2018.jpg

alexanderbeckycapex2018.jpg
Becky Cokelet, SEI Design Group

A $12.6 million capital improvement proposal for the Alexander Central School District truly is a collaborative effort by members of the local community, Superintendent Catherine Huber, Ed.D., told residents at a community forum Wednesday night.

"The committee worked tirelessly for several months and really came up with a plan that represents the voices of the community," Huber said. "The work was nothing but true collaboration and this plan really does represent the voices of our community."

The plan calls for a new bus garage, four upgraded classrooms in the elementary school building, and lights for the football field.

There are some in the community, including Toby Wade, who had a lot to say at the forum, who suspect the lights for football is a sort of bribe of the community to get approval for the bus garage.

"There is a perception out there by some people, and I admit, I'm one of them, who think you are just throwing them a bone so you can get the rest of the stuff you want," Wade said. 

Huber said the football lights were included because lights on the football field are a long-standing request of the community. She said it was one of the first things brought up to her by community members when she joined the district two years ago. The need for a new bus garage and dealing with the classroom situation is driving the need for a capital project, and that creates an opportunity to wrap in lights for the football field.

"We feel like this plan is not a matter of throwing a bone to anybody," Huber said. 

The state requires school districts to do a facilities review every five years and identify potential issues that need to be addressed. To comply with that requirement, Huber said, the district formed a committee -- any member of the community was able to participate -- and committee members toured the entire district property.

"When we came back from our site tour, almost everybody in that room knew what our priorities should be," Huber said. "When we toured the transportation facility, we realized what dire straits that transportation facility is in. We had no idea what condition the classrooms were in on the garden level but flooding was happening there regularly. The transportation facility and the elementary school building, we knew we had to do something about that. That was our jumping off point."

The current bus garage is beyond repair, Huber said. Bricks are deteriorating, there are other structural problems, and modern buses don't fit in it well.

There is also a persistent complaint about the safety of the current location. The current configuration means buses must back up into both car and pedestrian traffic areas.

Another long-standing request from the community, Huber said, is for a sidewalk connecting the high school with the elementary school in order to improve safety.

The proposed new transportation facility would eliminate indoor parking for buses (a configuration the state would not fund), create bays for bus maintenance, and a second floor for offices for transportation staff.

The transportation facility would be on a raised elevation, creating separation from pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk next to the football field.

Huber said the district decided to build a new transportation hub at the present location of the bus garage because there was no other available space on school district property and with declining enrollment, it made no sense for the district to acquire off-campus property for buses.

"We looked at several locations on campus and everywhere we ran into issues -- slops, water flows, traffic," Huber said. "It's a very complicated space."

Becky Cokelet, project consultant, from SEI Design Group, explained the situation with the elementary school classrooms.

There is a problem with flooding in the lower southwest area of the building because of soil conditions and that has caused damage to the building. 

The plan also calls for eliminating the bathrooms in each classroom and converting those to storage closets. Two new multi-stall bathrooms will be added where there is currently a classroom. 

The classrooms will be updated with modern fixtures and features and module desk units purchased. There will also be new lockers installed in the hallway.

Funding for the $12.6 million projects will come from a variety of sources:

  • $1.9 million from capital reserves;
  • $750,000 from other reserves;
  • and, 79 percent funded by state aid.

There will be no tax increase in either the near-term nor the long-term related to the project, Financial Director Tim Batzel said.

The district will be required to take out a 15-year bond on the classroom renovations and a 30-year bond for the new building but there will be no increase in the tax levy as a result.

The bonds will be repaid over the years by reimbursements from the state, not out of district funds (after the allocated reserves are spent).

While the statutory language of the ballot measure voters are being asked to approve Monday discusses using tax levy funds to pay for the project, that is language required by state law. In reality, Batzel, future tax levy money will not be used for the project. The expense of the project is completely covered by existing reserves and state aid.

If voters approve the project, Cokelet and her SEI colleagues will need until June 2019 to draw up architectural plans, then state officials will need to approve those plans -- a process that takes several months -- so construction won't begin before 2020 and then will take 10 to 12 months to complete.

Toby Wade said it seemed like there were a lot of unanswered questions about project details, particularly around the design of a retaining wall that he and others thought could present a safety issue.

Huber assured the audience that there is no way the district would approve plans that didn't adequately address safety issues.

As for the lack of detailed design plans, Cokelet said the stages of development are driven by state regulation. First comes the assessment, then a preliminary plan, which requires state approval, and then that plan is presented to the school board for approval. After the board approves it, it is brought to district voters for consideration.

It's only after voters approve it that architects can begin to actually design the buildings and infrastructure of the project.

Wade said that process is a problem because the district voters have been burned before.

"The year 2000 building project was a complete failure," Wade said. "We had to go through lawsuits and it was a huge disservice to people. I can respect that you're trying to do what is needed, but a lot of people in the community aren't going to trust that you're doing your due diligence and trust that it's all going to turn out right."

Cokelet didn't deny the previous project had numerous problems but she said she wasn't involved in the 2000 project, nor was her company.

"I'm ashamed on a professional level, on behalf of my profession, how that firm represented (and) handled that project, but thankfully that firm is out of business," Cokelet said.

However, the district won't be able to maintain the garage much longer. Soon the state will require it be replaced.

"I understand this requires faith and trust but I hope you will look at our most recent projects and I hope you see the great work that was done on limited budgets," Cokelet said.

Voters in the Alexander Central School District can vote on the capital improvement project at the school on Monday (Dec. 3) from noon to 8 p.m.

November 28, 2018 - 12:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander csd, alexander, news, notify.

The Alexander Central School District has proposed a $12.6 million capital improvement package that includes lights for the football field, a new transportation building and classroom improvements.

The district will host a public forum on the package at 7 o'clock tonight in the auditorium.

There is an election schedule Monday to ask district voters whether to approve the package.

The transportation building is the largest part of the package, with an estimated cost of $6.9 million.

The proposal calls for the demolition of the existing transportation facility and the construction of a new bus garage.

The cost of lighting the football field is expected to come in at more than $400,000.

The district is proposing borrowing more than $10 million and spending $1.9 million from the capital reserve fund.

The ballot proposition anticipates an increase in the tax levy to help pay for the project but doesn't specify how much the levy might increase, if at all.

November 28, 2018 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, alexander csd, news, notify.

hubermay2018.jpg

Catherine Huber, Ed.D., who was named superintendent of the Alexander Central School district two years ago this month, is one of two finalists for the Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES District superintendent position, according to the BOCES website.

Huber is scheduled for a daylong visit at the BOCES campus as part of the interview process Dec. 12.

The other finalist is Vicma Ramos, superintendent for the Greater Amsterdam School District.

Prior to accepting the position in Alexander, Huber was a principal in West Seneca, director of secondary education and assistant superintendent for human resources in the Kon-Ton School District. She's a member of the chief school officer group at Genesee Valley BOCES and chairs the instructional subcommittee.

The Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES includes 25 public school districts, 11 in Wayne County, nine in Ontario County, three in Seneca County and two in Yates County. The superintendent manages a $3.3 million budget.

The BOCES board anticipates appointing a new superintendent in January with a start date for the job in the spring.

Previously: Q&A with Catherine Huber, Ed.D., superintendent of Alexander CSD

Photo: File photo.

September 18, 2018 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, alexander csd, Tri-Town, news, notify.

tritownfieldsept2018.jpg

Last spring, a proposal by the Alexander Central School District to charge fees to the Tri-Town Youth Athletics Association for use of the high school's football field upset many parents of young athletes.

It could have added another $4,000 to the cost of the football program.

Now, according to Lisa Lyons, president of the association, the proposal may have been for the best.

Rather than pay the fee, volunteers banded together and reconstructed a field in need of repair so it could serve as Tri-Town's new football field.

"Somebody mentioned this week as we were cleaning up at the field, and somebody said, 'I think maybe we should write and thank her, thank Ms. Huber (Superintendent Catherine Huber),' " Lyons said. "This has been a really good thing. Our concession stand is thriving. We have everything in one place. It's made things on game days a lot easier. We're not hauling equipment and concessions to the football field and back. It's been a lot better for us. It really has."

The field -- which is on property used by Tri-Town behind the Alexander Fire Department Recreation Hall off of Alexander Road -- was used for soccer and other activities but over the summer, volunteers brought in heavy equipment and stripped the existing grass from the field, regraded it, leveled it and planted new sod. The only expense -- which Lyons said she would need board permission to disclose -- was the new grass.

The new field has brought back a lot of Tri-Town alumni back to check things out and attendance at the youth football games has increased, Lyons said.

"I feel like people have come out to the woodwork to see what’s going," she said.

Tri-Town hasn't completely worked out what it will do for basketball. It's probably unavoidable to use school facilities for practices, which means paying a fee for usage and chaperons (a new requirement from the district) but Lyons indicated they may have other options than using the school on game days.

"We have to weigh out our options and see what the best financial option is," Lyons said.

Photos: Football photos by Howard Owens from Saturday. Construction photos submitted by Lisa Lyons.

tritownfieldsept2018-2.jpg

tritownfieldsept2018-3.jpg

tritownfieldsept2018-4.jpg

img_3427.jpg

img_3428.jpg

img_3426.jpg

Subscribe to

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2019 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button